Exploring the Color of Glass: Letters of Recommendation for Female and Male Medical Faculty
Title: Exploring the Color of Glass: Letter’s of Recommendation for Female and Male Medical Faculty
This study examines over 300 letters of recommendation for medical faculty at a large American medical school in the mid-1990s, using methods from corpus and discourse analysis, with the theoretical perspective of gender schema from cognitive psychology. Letters written for female applicants were found to differ systematically from those written for male applicants in the extremes of length, in the percentages lacking in basic features, in the percentages with doubt raisers (an extended category of negative language, often associated with apparent commendation), and in frequency of mention of status terms. Further, the most common semantically grouped possessive phrases referring to female and male applicants (`her teaching,’ `his research’) reinforce gender schema that tend to portray women as teachers and students, and men as researchers and professionals.